People of Fovant

‘Memorable things – worth remembering – not to be forgotten – bring to mind’: CONCISE OXFORD DICTIONARY

As most people are inveterate hoarders, it is almost certain that hidden away in many attics will be family mementoes in a variety of shapes and forms. Largely forgotten, until a researcher expresses an interest, family documents have proved invaluable when delving into the lives and times of past generations. Family bibles and papers, diaries, newspaper cuttings, correspondence between families containing snippets of village news and views, photograph and autograph albums, accounts of family celebrations, even receipts of significant purchases – all help us to build a picture of an earlier Fovant.

A small selection of such documents follows.

Family Trees

There is a suggestion that genealogy is one of the fastest growing international hobbies, and this may well account for many of the ‘page-hits’ we have on our website. When someone contacts us for information, we pool the knowledge, theirs and ours, and draw up the beginnings of a tree for the family in question.

We have folders of such collective information, and therefore material for ‘trees’ for the following families:

  • Arnold, Barter, Bracher, Burton, Chinchen, Clay, Combes, Coombes, Cowdry,
  • Goodfellow, Foyle, Futcher, Hardiman, Hitchings, Jay, Lee, Lever, Martin,
  • Mills, Mullins, Sanger, Read, Simper, Wyatt and Turner.

In addition to the family information that we have on our database, we also have an extensive card index which pre-dates the computerisation of our records.

Family Bibles

In this instance it was the loose papers kept inside the Simper family bible which gave us the information shown on the left. (Click to enlarge).


William Simper, who, between 3rd August 1870 and 23rd February 1872, worked on the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, kept a diary for the whole of his time in Canada. William, Great-uncle of Roy and Pat Simper, returned to England, but nothing further is known of his history. Roy Simper holds the original diary, but we have a copy.

Extracts from the daily working diary of Charles Turner, for 1899–1900. A resident of Fovant, he was a woodman on the estate of the Earl of Pembroke, working mainly in the wood alongside the road to Dinton. His largely daily entries were chiefly concerned either with the weather or a description of the task in hand, but occasionally social events were noted such as ‘Dinton Oddfellows Feast’ or‘Britford Fair’. Village deaths were also recorded.


Christmas ‘aerogram’ from Les King, while serving in the Middle East Forces during the 1939–45 war, to his family at home in Dinton. (Click to enlarge).



To: Mrs. G.M. Mullins, Mill House Lodge, Swallowcliffe, Nr. Salisbury, Wilts.

‘Sutton, May 29th 1931. Dear Het and Gilb, Just a P.C. to let you know that Margaret don’t think of coming over for weekend with you, she say stop till the school Holidays. Father is no better and Harry is very queer so Fred said last night. Cowdry, Baker chap is dead, dare say you have heard about the accident. Did you get any heavy weather other night. So must close with love in haste yrs Dor.’

From this message we learn, for the first time, that Ernest Cowdry met an accidental death.


Photographs of ancestors, with names and dates on the reverse.

‘George Lever, 1875–1916, lost at sea during the Battle of Jutland. Buried in Norway’.
‘Bessie Louise Young, born 1875 – future wife of George Lever’.
Alice Maud Turner with some of her children, Charles, Phyllis, Ethel, Doris, Frank and Gwen, in the garden of their house, Sunnyside in Back Street. Early 1920s.

Autograph albums

Bessie Lever (junior) worked as a nurse at Fovant Military Hospital during the 1914 –18 war. While there, she was given an autograph album. An entry made by one of her colleagues at the hospital is shown on the left.

Family Celebrations

Such occasions are usually well reported, if only in photographs, but at the wedding of Lucy Raymond and Edward Simper in May 1921 the photographer failed to show up. However, receipts for the financial outlay for their wedding were kept and tell the story of a typical village wedding of that period.


January 2006